Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO review: Clack of the Titans
Roccat have been really talking up their new Titan switches. Developed in cooperation with TTC, Roccat have been insisting since Computex 2018 that their the Titan Switch Tactile is “the perfect synthesis of competitive speed, first-class typing feel and striking aesthetics."
And whether that’s true or not, investing in their hardware is a smart move. It’s a tactic that puts Roccat in line with rivals like Logitech, who have also developed their own Romer-G mechanical switches as an alternative to the popular Cherry MX mechanical switches found in other gaming keyboards.
The new Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO is our first taste of what the company’s Titan switches have to offer. And, for the most part, they actually live up to the hype.
Key-switches: Titan Switches Tactile
Actuation point: 1.8mm
Travel distance: 3.6mm
Dimensions: 462mm x 235mm x 32mm
RGB Lighting Software: ROCCAT Swarm
USB Passthrough: No.
N-Key rollover: Yes
What did we like about the Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO keyboard?
As with most of Roccat’s recent AIMO refreshes, the key sell here is the AIMO lighting - and if you don’t buy into that, I’m unsure how magnetic the draw of a keyboard like the Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO really is. That said, if you're a person who likes their RGB lighting, there's a lot here to dig into.
Unlike other gaming keyboards, which often rely on underlights or zone-based lighting solutions, the LEDs on the Vulcan 120 are actually built into the switch itself. This illumination is aided by smaller keycaps found on the Vulcan 120, and the software powering AIMO itself.
In addition to offering the usual range of lighting patterns, AIMO’s default mode is one that reacts “organically” based on your usage, in a way that’s both coherent and pleasing. Part of this is mostly marketing flair, but it really does feel like Roccat have given their AIMO system more room to breathe than competing RGB lighting solutions - and the results are sometimes genuinely delightful to behold.
The feel-factor of the Titan switches is another immediately appealing aspect of the package. They’re clicky enough, but not so clicky that they’d annoy any coworkers around you, should you take it into an office. The keypress distance here gives the Vulcan 120 a precise and immediate feel to it.
As well as a tactile (and silent) 1.8mm actuation point and 3.6mm travel distance, the Titan switch features structural housing to reduce wobble while being pressed. According to Roccat themselves, they bring electrical contact bouncing to a minimum, and allow the firmware powering the Vulcan 120 to recognise inputs about 20% faster than they would otherwise.
The software ticks all the right boxes as well. Though the setup process is one too many steps for my liking, the Roccat Swarm app gives you all the usual functions. You can modify the macro and lighting settings. You can modify the character repeat delay, and set up per-game lighting profiles and macros. Everything you’d expect from an RGB gaming keyboard like this one is present and accounted for here.
What didn’t we like about the Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO keyboard?
If anything, the biggest drawback here is the sheer amount of space that the Vulcan 120 AIMO (plus wrist-rest) take up on your desk. There’s no USB pass-through here either, which fast proved another limitation to chafe against. A version of this keyboard with that or one that's more compact isn’t something I’d be against.
While the Titan keys themselves strike a great balance between looking and feeling good, the frame they’re attached to can’t help but come across as a little flat and lustreless by comparison. Likewise, the media function keys perched on the right corner of the Vulcan 120 AIMO sometimes come across as a cheap and tacky inclusion on a premium keyboard that otherwise feels anything but.
As a product, the Roccat Vulcan 120 nails the essentials, but fumbles when it comes to the smaller, ancillary details. It’s unwilling to compromise when it comes to the fundamentals, but it feels like everything else is fair game.
The Bottom Line
After a few weeks of regular use, I’m pretty sold on Roccat’s Titan switches. It doesn’t feel quite as snappy or premium to use as Razer’s opto-mechanical Huntsman, and it certainly isn’t as fun to use as the X-BOW is. Regardless, Roccat’s Vulcan 120 might actually be a contender for my new favorite gaming keyboard.
The Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO is far from compact, but when you factor in the snappy Titan key-switches and organic illumination tech, any shortcomings are easily overshadowed.
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